Devon Horse Show and Country Fair runs through June 4
EASTTOWN >> The horse are coming, including the Clydesdales, the rides are in place and the volunteers are back as the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair makes its annual return to Chester County.
Changes at the show include a new two-story tent grandstand on the southeast corner of Dixon Oval and a new event, the Devon Arena Eventing, which features a crosscountry phase that runs through the Gold Ring and the Dixon Oval, with both cross-country and show-jumping fences.
On Wednesday as early arrivals were setting up their stables and taking their horses for practice in Dixon Oval, volunteer Eric Corkhill of Paoli was in his car with Devon’s 1902 Stotesbury perpetual trophy safely buckled next to him. The Stotesbury trophy is one of the show’s 184 trophies, some of which go back to the 19th century.
Corkhill was taking it out for cleaning before it is given out Saturday. Most of the trophies and awards are cleaned, engraved and kept in a safe at a local jeweler. He explained the Stotesbury trophy was so delicate that he would clean it himself.
During the show, trophies are kept behind hurricane-strength glass near the Dixon Oval for visitors to see. Devon’s collection was recently appraised by Freeman’s Auction house at a value of $2 million.
The trophies are split in two categories. The first category is challenge trophies, which will be given to a rider in a given category, and if that rider wins that event five times they get to keep the trophy. Corkhill estimated the horse show has given out hundreds of trophies this way over the years. The second class of trophies is perpetual; these trophies are kept by Devon permanently. The winner is given a keepsake plate.
Trophies are staged for each day of the show so that the winners can be photographed with them following the event.
Corkhill said 30 orphaned trophies, socalled because they were awarded for competitions which are no longer run at Devon, once were kept in a shed on the property. He saw that they were properly stored and cleaned up.
On Monday, Devon will get one of its challenge trophy’s back. A family from Florida contacted Devon for details on a trophy from Devon. It was found in a family member’s home. Corkhill said they researched it and found it was last given out in 1916 to Maj. Gen. George Gibbs and Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell. The next year, World War I began and the trophy was forgotten. Gibbs went on to run the signal corps and Mitchell went on to help start the U.S. Air Force.
On Wednesday, shops were busy stocking their wares for the country fair. Joan Oates, concessions volunteer said there are 37 shop in the country fair this year including eight vendors: Haverhill Jewelers; Churchwell Jewelers; LuLaRe, a comfort clothing store;Taste Artisanal, which specializes in chutney spreads; Waltzing Matilda, leather goods and saddles; What a Good Dog, dog training and goods; and Isle Field.
Over at the souvenir booth, country fair buyer Kathy Moore said they have a number of new items for sale, including: vineyard silk scarfs and neckties, matching handhooked pillows and rugs, Turkish towels and the Corkcicle, a trendy thermos. Moore said they sell some of their items on the Horse Show website, but the majority of items are only sold at the Country Fair. She said baseball hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts with new designs each year are the perennial favorites.
Competition opens with Junior Weekend, starting with equitation classes today, and continuing with junior hunter and jumper and pony classes on Friday and Saturday.
The Clydesdales are scheduled to appear June 2 and 3, the second weekend of the show. McLain Ward will be at Devon to defend his Grand Prix title next Thursday evening, June 1. The Carriage Pleasure Drive on Sunday, arriving at the Dixon Oval around 12:30 p.m., opens eight days of adult competition. The show ends June 4.
At the information booth, Dev Thielens of Berwyn was enjoying the sight of the horses, along with the excitement of last-minute preparations.
“There have been a lot of changes at Devon over the years, but it still has the same feel,” she said.
PETE BANNAN — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA Riders and horses warm up in the Dixon Oval at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, which runs through June 4.